Gloucester grind past London Irish

Date published: December 1 2014

Greg Laidlaw scored 11 points as Gloucester beat basement dwellers London Irish 21-9 at the Madejski Stadium on Sunday.

Greg Laidlaw scored 11 points as Gloucester beat basement dwellers London Irish 21-9 at the Madejski Stadium on Sunday.

Two second half tries from the visitors ensured they picked up their first win since Round Four. In a drab first half, just a solitary penalty from Laidlaw troubled the scoreboard, as he gave Gloucester a 3-0 lead at the break.

But scores were much more frequent in the second period, with both Laidlaw and Shane Geraghty kicking a series of points. But they were all sandwiched by two tries from Gloucester, Henry Purdy and Steve McColl going over to give the Cherry and Whites victory.

The game began with a moment of silence, with fans and players bowing their heads in memory of Australian cricketer Philip Hughes, who tragically died in the week.

In an even start, Irish began slightly on top as they looked to take an early lead, but it slowly evened up as early hopes turned to a hugely scrappy affair of minimal chances.

The sparse crowd had nothing to liven up a bright afternoon at the Madjeski, though James Hook and Matt Kvesic did almost force through after some neat passing, but a forward pass put paid to Exiles attack. Tom Savage burst forward soon after but was again thwarted, whilst the visitors went even closer thanks to Steve McColl, but after collecting his kick, Irish bundled the ball to touch.

In a half dominated by tightly fought scrums, the creative spark was missing, hence why it took 35 minutes for either side to get on the scoreboard.

It eventually came thanks to Laidlaw, who kicked a penalty after a foul in the maul. Irish had their first kick on the cusp of half time, but Geraghty missed his effort as the sides went in for an urgently needed break.

But the second half was a different spectacle. Within five minutes, Gloucester extended their lead thanks to a Laidlaw penalty, and then came the game’s first try. Mark Atkinson stole the ball and gave it to Steve McColl, and a series of passes eventually found young Henry Purdy who went over to put Gloucester firmly in front.

But Laidlaw’s miss allowed Geraghty to narrow the gap, as the hosts’ inside centre kicked his side’s first points of the afternoon. He got three more points minutes later, as the lead was narrowed to just a try.

Both kickers then got another penalty of their own, in a much more engaging second period. Gloucester thought they had another try thanks to Tom Savage, but the TMO ruled he’d gone out of play as he looked to go over, and Irish threatened to pull the score back with a heap of pressure.

But with six minutes to go, Gloucester wrapped up the match thanks to McColl. He collected a lovely kick from James Hook, and raced over for the game’s second try, with Laidlaw finishing the scoring for the day from the conversion.

The afternoon ended on a sour note however for the visitors, as Savage found himself yellow carded after a late hit in midfield. The result ensures just the second away win for Gloucester since March, whilst Irish’s losing streak stretches to five games.

The scorers:

For London Irish:
Pens: Geraghty 3

For Gloucester:
Tries: Purdy, McColl
Con: Laidlaw
Pens: Laidlaw 3
Yellow Card: Savage

London Irish: 15 Tom Homer, 14 Alex Lewington, 13 Fergus Mulchrone, 12 Shane Geraghty, 11 James Short, 10 Chris Noakes, 9 Scott Steele, 8 Ofisa Treviranus, 7 Blair Cowan, 6 Jebb Sinclair, 5 Kieran Low, 4 George Skivington (c), 3 Geoff Cross, 2 David Paice, 1 Tom Court
Replacements: 16 Tom Woolsencroft, 17 Leo Halavatau, 18 Halani Aulika, 19 Dan Leo, 20 Conor Gilsenan, 21 Darren Allinson, 22 Eoin Griffin, 23 Topsy Ojo

Gloucester: 15 Steve McColl, 14 Charlie Sharples, 13 Billy Meakes, 12 Mark Atkinson, 11 Henry Purdy, 10 James Hook, 9 Greig Laidlaw, 8 Gareth Evans, 7 Matt Kvesic, 6 Sione Kalamafoni, 5 Tom Palmer, 4 Tom Savage, 3 John Afoa, 2 Richard Hibbard, 1 Yann Thomas
Replacements: 16 Aleki Lutui, 17 James Gibbons, 18 Sila Puafisi, 19 Elliott Stooke, 20 Ross Moriarty, 21 Callum Braley, 22 Billy Burns, 23 Shane Monahan

Referee: Matt Carley